Toyota C-HR Hybrid review

The Toyota C-HR is an accomplished small SUV that boasts low running costs and bold styling

£25,625 - £32,595
Hybrid

Pros

  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Bold design
  • Quiet when cruising

Cons

  • Poor infotainment
  • Not overly spacious
  • Noisy acceleration
Car type Fuel economy CO2 emissions 0-62mph
Hybrid 53-59mpg 86-92g/km (NEDC correlated) 8.2-11.0s

The Toyota C-HR is an unusual-looking vehicle that’s designed to stand out in the very crowded small SUV sector. Clearly the approach works as more than 50,000 examples have been sold in the UK, and a facelift for 2020 should ensure that the car’s popularity endures.

Four out of five pre-facelift C-HRs were bought with a hybrid engine, and it’s here that Toyota has made the most fundamental change: the C-HR is now hybrid only, with the sole pure-petrol model ditched in favour of a new 1.8- and 2.0-litre petrol-electric line-up.

The 1.8 – also found in the Toyota Prius – is carried over from before, with the engine working in tandem with an electric motor to provide 120bhp and fuel economy that falls just shy of 60mpg.

The 2.0-litre on the other hand – first seen in the Toyota Corolla – features two electric motors: a main one to provide drive, and a supplementary one that harvests electrical energy from the car’s regenerative braking system. Total power amounts to 182bhp, which lowers the C-HR’s 0-62mph time from 11.0 to 8.2 seconds.

That extra turn of speed comes at the cost of some fuel efficiency: Toyota says the 2.0-litre model should return a still very respectable 53mpg, and our test drive on UK roads shows that this is a realistic figure to aim for.

All versions of the C-HR feature a CVT automatic gearbox, with drive sent to the front wheels only. Bear in mind that the C-HR is a ‘self-charging’ hybrid like the Toyota RAV4 and Kia Niro, and not a plug-in hybrid like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVMINI Countryman S E and forthcoming Renault Captur.

So while you can’t charge the car with a cable, you’ll spend a surprising amount of time in ‘EV mode’. The 2.0-litre version is more effective in this respect thanks to its more powerful electric motor, which will kick in for short (but frequent) bursts at speeds of up to 75mph.

At a steady speed the C-HR is very quiet, to the point where the switch between engine and electric motor power almost doesn’t register. But one of the car’s biggest flaws makes itself apparent under harsh acceleration, which sparks an almighty racket from the engine as the revs spike to provide maximum power. The 2.0-litre powertrain suffers less than the 1.8 in this respect thanks to its greater power.

As SUVs go the C-HR is a tidy vehicle to drive, with light steering and reasonable cornering ability making it a doddle to drive around town. Toyota says various tweaks have been made to the suspension to make the slightly heavier 2.0-litre version more comfortable, although the car still feels unsettled on most roads.

Other foibles include a relatively small boot, poor rear visibility (thanks to that sloping roofline) and a dreadful eight-inch infotainment touchscreen that’s highly unintuitive to use. Happily, Toyota now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, which goes a long way to making up for the shortcomings of its own system.

Those things aside, the Toyota C-HR remains a highly appealing small SUV, with a five-year, 100,000-mile guarantee and a generous kit list likely to tempt many buyers away from its main rivals.

For a more detailed look at the Toyota C-HR Hybrid, read the rest of our in-depth review.